Take from this world. There is so much that it offers you.
Learn from others. Sit at the feet of the wise. Learn their ways.
Humble yourself to God's direction and wisdom.
Be willing. Give back. Love.
These are my goals.
Join us.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Look up.

I coach soccer at a local high school. This evening we had an extra Sunday practice because some players need to get the required 10 practices in before the games this week. The field still hasn't been marked fully and we need to work on positioning tomorrow so I stayed afterwards and started marking the goalie box. I was measuring and stringing lines and driving stakes and spraying paint. I have started wearing a hat more recently because those who care about me don't want me to get skin cancer and I agree with them. My head was down and my hat was covering my eyes. On the last run of paint, I glanced up to see the clouds full of pink light and half of the moon reflecting white against the blue sky in the East. I smiled and turned my hat around. Light. I need to let the light in. I need to look up. I need to turn my hat around as the sun sets and soak it in. I turned around and watched the orange sky turn fuchsia as I finished up. These moments when I am absorbed in my work, those blades of grass and paint, is when I need to recognize there is a bigger picture to take in. I need to look up and turn my hat around more.

Of course better in person and taken after a few minutes of thinking.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

The Dump People.

Short and sweet. And foul smelling and filled with plastic bags. The dump is an interesting place. No one would want to work there. And then there's Fred. Fred has been working with them for 8 years. The "dump people" they are called. "It takes time and a relationship and trust. You can't just relocated 500 families from a place they've been for 30 years." These are Burmese people who have fled their military government. Many people's perspective when they visit the dump is to get these people out right away. Outsiders say also that the reason the people stay there is because they are heavily supported by NGO's because the phrase, "the dump people", pulls on heart strings more than "relocated and integrated" does. Plus that's already a thing, they called it, "refugee camps" and their situations are sometimes just as bad. It's not an easy situation to be in. Fred has seen many things there. He told me that he has taken many dead babies out of there and older people too.

Before I pulled out my phone, I asked Fred if the people minded me taking a picture. He paused and said, "You know, I appreciate you asking that cause no one ever does, they just pull out their camera and snap pictures so they can post 'em everywhere and they miss the real people who are actually here in front of them. Right here, there are real people but we distance ourselves from them. Yes, go for it. Here, I'll slow down." I snapped this picture as we bounced down the road to pick up the children for school. As many mornings go, a sick older lady, being carried by her relative, hitched a ride to be seen at Mae Tao Clinic. There were about 25 of us all piled in the back of the truck with a bike and other goods under foot.

Many of the kids who are born there have never been into town. They have no idea what the outside of the dump looks like let along the beautiful beaches just a few hours south of there. Fred has worked hard to build a trusting relationship with the people and gradually they have built up a few structures where they do some teaching of basic subjects. Fred points out a few of the really bright kids and brags on them a little. "This girl is brilliant. She is learning so much and teaching the other children. Her mind is... Oh and this boy, he is so sharp. So sharp." If given the opportunity, what would some of these kids create to better the world. Or simply, their world. What if? In most cases we won't know. They will never have the chance to blossom.

Mae Sot Thailand, July 2015

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Educate From Within.

(If nothing else, read the last paragraph.)

In Mae Sot, dinner with friends usually turns into dinner with more friends and new friends. I met several students from University of Cincinnati on Saturday night. They are here to check on a project they have been working with for several years. It's deeper than just checking up on people though. This is making and maintaining a face-to-face relationship and mutual respect. Their University's ongoing project is involved with SAW, Social Action for Women. It was started by a Burmese doctor who worked very hard to receive his education and now educates community leaders to educate their communities. Most of the communities SAW works with are Burmese farm workers in Thailand. It was founded originally for women but has now become a more family and relationship based workshop where communities come together to talk about abuse, rights, and empowerment. These workshops engage those topics in the home and in the field. The workshops include a meal, a couple hygiene products, and 100 baht in place of a day's pay (less than $3).

Sunday morning, I tagged along with their group to one of the workshops. Along with the students there were several of the local leaders of SAW whom the students have been communicating with on a weekly basis from the States. We got into a truck taxi and traveled about an hour South of Mae Sot. The road opened up and fields of corn and hemp were rolling by. It rained off and on and the air was fresh. We stopped at someone's home on the way to pick up the food prepared for the attendees' lunch. We then drove into a small village surrounded by tall corn stalks. We unloaded the truck, helped set up the posters and then passed out a few supplies as people began to arrive. One of the main topics throughout was abuse in the home and on the farm. The attendees got into small groups and drew out pictures of what that looked like, then presented their story to everyone. They also did a few ice breakers and games.

While the groups were busy discussing their topics, the lead corespondent to the students took us to visit another village close. The head of the village told us that the water supply was poisoned by the chemicals used on the corn crops. This means that they have to purchased their own bottled water which comes out of their personal paychecks. The owner of the farm will not pay for a well to be drilled to solve this problem. The head of the village said that at this time they did not want to push the issue either because their relationship with the farmer was in pretty good standing. The bathroom, seen in the center right with green doors of the picture below, are in bad shape. They were put in by sponsorship from the University of Cincinnati but are now almost nearly full and unusable. Their homes are built out of bamboo because they are not supposed to be permanent. The land on which they live does not belong to them and they actually have to rent the land from the farmer/owner. So just to recap, they buy their own water, don't have anywhere to poop, don't have permanent home, pay rent on land, work hard on the farm, and get $2.80 a day.